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Garden Ramblings, Issue #023
July 15, 2006
July 2006

Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

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In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Plant of the Month
- Micro Greens
- Ten Tips For The Summer Garden
- Special Offers
- Useful Resources



Welcome to the July issue of Garden Ramblings your monthly window on what's going on in the world of gardening.

The "Plant of the Month" is the Hollyhock, one of the oldest cultivated plants and still a firm favorite today.

In a previous issue I included an article on sprouting seeds. Micro greens are the next stage in a plant's development. Find out more, including how to grow them yourself.

Ten Tips For The Summer Garden is a reminder of those tasks that need your attention at this time of year.


In the Special Offers section this month there are three Pre-Season Sales and a reminder about a Photo Contest.

The Useful Resources are more for enjoyment rather than utility this month.


If you want to keep up with all the news in the gardening world, you can read my blog Garden Supplies News.

Enjoy the issue.




Plant of the Month

Name: Hollyhock (Althaea rosea)

Description: Hardy herbaceous annual but usually grown as a biennial. The leaves are light-green, rough and hairy, with five or six lobes. Funnel-shaped flowers in a wide range of colors from violet and deep crimson to pink yellow and white are borne on tall rigid stems from July to September.

Origin: Native to China.


Cultivation: Hollyhocks are best grown as biennials. Sow seeds in July to flower the following summer. If seeds are sown under cover in February and transplanted when the weather warms up, the plants will flower the same year, but on shorter stems.



Pests and diseases: Generally trouble free but can be affected by rust particularly when left to regrow as perennials. Caterpillars and capsid bugs can damage the leaves.


Folklore: Hollyhocks are believed to be one of the oldest cultivated plants. Plant residues have been found in a grave of Neanderthal man dating back some fifty thousand years. The flowers were grown in China where the leaves were used for food, cooked like spring greens. They also ate the buds which were considered a delicacy. The hollyhock is a member of the Mallow family and some say that the name comes from "holy" plus "hoc", which is Anglo-Saxon for mallow. "Holy" because it was found by the Crusaders growing profusely in Jerusalem. They may have been responsible for bringing the plant to England, whence it was carried to North America around 1630 by the colonists. The old herbals suggested various medicinal uses and, apparently, the flowers were used to make a dye to color wine.


Micro Greens


Gourmet vegetable confetti is how one chef has described them. Served in trendy restaurants around the world, micro greens are the plant's first true leaves which are both tasty and nutritious. Coming between the sprouting seed stage, where the whole sprout is eaten, and the baby stage, when the head or root is formed, micro greens with their minute but perfectly formed leaves provide a colorful addition to any dish.


What varieties of vegetables are used for micro greens?

Many different types are grown in this way. Arugula, a mildly spicy member of the brassica family; broccoli which is noted for its anti-oxidant properties, and both green and red cabbage varieties. Oriental cabbages are also used, as are kohlrabi, swiss chard and radish. Red colored leaves are provided by beetroot and red kale.


Can you grow micro greens yourself?

Yes, simply sow the seeds in a flat or pot filled with soil and harvest the seedlings when their first set of leaves appear. Micro greens can be grown any time of the year - even inside during winter. For use in the house you can buy special felt pads on which you grow the seeds instead of soil. Each crop takes between two to three weeks from sowing the seeds until they are ready for harvesting.


How do I use micro greens in my cooking?

Either as a garnish or as the main ingredient of a dish. They will add an extra dimension to your cuisine. Some have a milder flavour than their fully grown cousins, but others have a strong pungent taste. The latter can be added to a mixed salad to give it some extra bite. The milder varieties have some unusual flavours, one type of mustard having a distinct taste of mashed potato. For some serving suggestions a quick search on google will provide you with plenty of recipe ideas.


I hope that this brief introduction to micro greens has given you some ideas, and perhaps will encourage you to try growing a crop yourself.


Ten Tips For The Summer Garden


Summer is here and the weather is hot, but there are still things to do in the garden. So slow down a little, put on your sun hat and schedule your tasks for the cooler times of the day. Here is my list of essential tasks for July:


1. Water. Check your rainfall so you can judge how much watering you have to do. About one inch of water per week is enough for most plants. The morning is the best time to water, so that your plants are not left damp through the night.


2. Feed. For the best results apply a liquid fertilizer to your annuals every two to three weeks through the summer. For your perennials a granular fertilizer is preferable. This should be applied to the base of each plant this month to boost them through to the fall.


3. Weed. Keep on top of your weeds. Catch them while they are small and your task will be so much easier than if they are allowed to grow.


4. Mulch. Make sure that all open soil is covered by mulch since this will help to maintain the moisture level and suppress weeds.


5. Mow. Keep your grass looking trim, but do not cut it too short. Longer grass stays greener through the summer heat.


6. Deadheading. This can be a pain but really is worth the effort to ensure that your flowers keep producing fresh blooms.


7. Pests and Diseases. Keep an eye out for any problems and treat them as soon as they are spotted.


8. Birds. Make sure that your birdbath always has plenty of fresh water. This will encourage birds to visit and feed on the insect pests that are attacking your plants.


9. Pond. It's amazing how quickly the water level in your garden pond falls in hot weather, so keep a lookout and top it up when necessary.


10. Sit and Enjoy. Make time to benefit from all your hard work. Summer is the best time to sit and enjoy your garden, so make the most of it.



Special Offers

It's high summer and there are three sales, one new arrival and last call for the photo contest.


Gardener's Supply Company has a "Just In Time Summer Sale" where you can save up to 62% on over 200 of their gardening bestsellers. Everything from pots and planters, gardening tools and solar lights to household helpers and weather watching. Well worth a look. Click HERE


Gurney's have a "Perennial Pre-Season Extravaganza" with 20% off. "Over 95 perennials on sale! Whether you're after a splash of color for your flower beds or something lush for your front walk borders, it's all right here."



Brecks are featuring their Early Summer Festival Bloomers in an Advance Sale. "Plant them once and you will be treated to summer upon summer of enchanting blooms. You'll never consider your summertime garden "hum-drum" again!"


The new arrival is one of the loveliest, most unique alliums you will find. Allium Roseum features long-lasting pink blooms with light green highlights, perfectly contrasted with bright green foliage. Reserve yours now for fall planting and save!



Dutch Gardens are reminding readers about their Photo Contest. Send them your best garden photo and you could win the $500 prize. You have until July 31 to submit your entry.


Useful Resources

This month the emphasis is on pleasure rather than usefulness. Here are some links to images of summer gardens that you can either use for inspiration or just pure enjoyment.


To set the scene here is a group of eleven photos by Rosina.



This next suggestion can keep you glued to your screen for hours if you are not careful. Just go to Google, type in "summer garden" and click the "images" link plus "Search" and you will be presented with a hugh collection of gorgeous pictures.


For a change from photos, try these poster images all based around a Gazebo theme.Click HERE.



Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: [email protected]

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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